Train2Game News UKIE on Spending Review

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Chancellor George Osborne published the Comprehensive Spending Review today, setting out the government’s spending plans for the next three years.

Several announcements were made which are important for the UK games industry:

Apprenticeship Levy – a 0.5% levy will be applied to the payroll of all businesses with a wage bill above £3 million, and the money raised used to fund apprenticeships

Arts Council funding – the Arts Council will receive an increase in its budget. Ukie are already in discussion with the Arts Council about how they can give further support to games projects, and we will continue this conversation. Details on the additional funding are still forthcoming.

Innovate UK funding – overall funding provided to businesses by Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board) will be kept at the same level. However, many of the grants currently offered will instead be offered as loans, reducing the cost to government.

DCMS budget – the operational budget of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport will be reduced by 20%.

Dr Jo Twist, CEO of Ukie, responded to the CSR, saying:

“This spending review has many important announcements for the UK games industry. Getting the Apprenticeship Levy right in particular is crucial, and Ukie will continue to work closely with government and our partners across the creative industries to ensure it provides real benefits for the games industry. There have also been significant changes announced to the way that UKTI and Innovate UK will work, and additional funding for the Arts Council. We have a great relationship with these organisations and will continue to help them reach games sector companies who would benefit from their support. Our goal is to make sure the support government gives the games industry works for all parts of the industry, and our suggested actions are laid out in our Blueprint for Growth report.”

Train2Game News UKIE on 2015 budget

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Today’s Budget was the first from the Chancellor of a majority Conservative government since 1996, and announcing a significant change in economic strategy with cuts to taxes and welfare and the introduction of a National Living Wage. You can read the full Budget speech and documents here.

With the Budget in March this year already having announced a £4 million Prototype Fund for the games industry, as well as further funding for the Skills Investment Fund, it is perhaps not surprising that today did not see any more direct announcements of support for games. However today’s announcements will still have an impact on all games companies.

Of most direct interest were the announcement on digital clusters. Ukie CEO Dr Jo Twist said in response:  “We welcome the new support for regional digital economy clusters outside of London.  Ukie will submit ambitious proposals to government supported by a major piece of research to influence the long-term Spending Round expected in November this year to support growth right across UK.”

Innovation across the country

In our letter to the Chancellor, Ukie called for investment in games hubs across the country. The government has taken steps toward this by announcing that they will work with existing clusters to find and support strengths in science and innovation. The Budget announced that “the government will invite universities, LEPs, businesses and cities to work with central government to map strengths and identify potential areas of strategic focus for different regions through a series of science and innovation audits”. Proposals generated from these discussions will be funded through announcements in the Comprehensive Spending Review that will be held in the autumn.

As a first step, the Budget also announced that the government will invest £23m in 6 “Next Generation Digital Economy Centres” over 6 sites – London, Swansea, Newcastle, Nottingham, York and Bath. These will attract match funding from the private sector to “exploit opportunities across sectors of the digital economy including the creative industries, finance, healthcare and education.”

We will be working closely with government to make sure these announcements have the best possible outcome for the games industry, especially in the clusters identified in the NESTA report.

Changes to Enterprise Investment Schemes

The March Budget proposed changes to ‘tax-advantaged venture capital schemes’ including SEIS, EIS and VCTs, which many games companies make use of. Following a consultation, which they have today published the government response to, they have confirmed several changes including:

    A new £20 million cap on the total risk finance that can be raised by a company under EIS or VCTs

    An increase in the employee limit for ‘knowledge intensive’ companies to 500 employees

    A new digital process for companies and investors using SEIS, EIS and the Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) by the end of 2016

Business Environment

The Chancellor announced some major changes which will have an impact on all businesses in the UK, including:

    Corporation Tax will be reduced to 19% in 2017 then 18% in 2020 – keeping it the lowest in the G7, and a reduction from the 28% rate that the coalition government inherited in 2010.

    A new mandatory National Living Wage will be introduced. It will apply to the over-25s from April 2016, rising from £7.20 an hour then to over £9 an hour by 2020.

    The Employment Allowance will go up from £2,000 to £3,000, raising the amount businesses can pay employees before they incur National Insurance contributions

    Three million new apprenticeships will be created, partially funded by a new ‘Apprenticeships Levy’ on all large employers. This levy can be recovered by companies that spend money on training.

    From September 2017, families with 3 and 4 year old children will receive 30 hours of free childcare – twice the current amount.

Train2Game News This Cake Is Not A Lie

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First ever Gamerbake kicks off at London’s Meltdown bar next Monday, in partnership with Special Effect.

Founded by culinary experts George Osborn and Chris Kerr, Gamerbake is the friendliest cooking themed networking event in the world…and probably the only one at the moment.

The event is simple: a game related theme is announced and attendee bakers must make something vaguely related and bring it along. A panel of judges decide who’s produced the best bake, and there will be some prizes for the winner.

The first ever Gamerbake will take place next Monday (15th June) at 7pm in the Meltdown bar, North London. Jordan Erica Webber, Alan Williamson and Caitlin Goodale will form the judging panel for what promises to be a unique night of cake-fuelled revelry, gaming chit chat, and casual networking.

There is also a huge range of prizes up for grabs including:

• An exclusive, one of a kind Gamerbake apron
• A bundle of indie steam games
• A load of MadCatz goodies from controllers to headphones

As well as these awesome prizes, there’ll be a couple of secret prizes, provided by the kind folks at Ubisoft which will be handed out on the night.

Co-Founder George Osborn said “We have been overwhelmed by the huge amount of support we have had since announcing Gamerbake. I think it is clear that the games industry is full of secret baking experts who were all just waiting for the opportunity to show off their culinary talents. I am really glad that we can give them a stage to show off their sweet treats”

“With Gamerbake, we wanted to take all of the stress and social awkwardness out of networking and create a casual, friendly event for those who just want to meet  likeminded gamers in a fun, relaxing environment. “ Co-Founder Chris Kerr comments “We also really, really wanted an excuse to get a bunch of people together for a night of cake-scoffing, game-playing, chin-wagging mayhem. Given the fact that we’ve now sold out, it looks like that’s an idea everyone can get on board with.”

All information about Gamerbake can be found on the official website here: http://www.gamerbake.com/

Train2Game News UKIE still positive after budget

UKIE LogoUK games trade body still optimistic of getting a decision from the EC soon and urges UK government to continue pushing as hard as possible for their introduction.

Responding to the Budget announcement by Chancellor George Osborne, Ukie CEO Dr Jo Twist said the following about the lack of any announcement on the long-awaited games production tax credits by the Chancellor.

Dr Twist said: “The ongoing delay to the UK games tax relief scheme has been very frustrating for UK developers. Whilst there was not any announcement about the European Commission’s decision in this year’s budget, we continue to be confident that our case is strong and that we will receive word from the EC soon. We know that the Treasury and other UK government departments have worked hard to convince Europe of the case for UK Games Tax Relief, and we will continue to do everything we can to help push tax relief over the finishing line and get this vital scheme in place for UK developers as soon as possible”.

The full Budget document (the Red Book) sets out a small change to the legislation behind Games Tax Relief, in paragraph 2.114, which would be enacted should the relief get clearance. However, the relief remains subject to state aid clearance, meaning that final European Commission approval is still required before it can go ahead.

There was other relevant news for games companies in the Budget however, with announcements of:

·         The Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme to be made permanent
·         Extra £85 million in next two years in grants to employers to support 100,000 new apprenticeships
·         £20 million over 2 years to support degree-level apprenticeships
·         Confirmation that Corporation Tax will be 21% in April, 20% from April 2015
·         £2,000 Employment Allowance announced last year will come into force in April – reduces Employer National Insurance Contributions
·         UK Export Finance will be reformed to support intangible exports, be much more proactive in support of UK businesses, and have its direct lending budget double to £3 billion at the lowest permitted interest rates.
·         R&D Tax Credit for loss-making SMEs will increase from 11% to 14.5%
·         Enterprise Zone discounts on business rates and Enhanced Capital Allowances will be extended by 3 years
·         Double the Annual Investment Allowance for businesses to £500,000 until the end of 2015
·         Provide £42 million over 5 years to set up the Alan Turing Institute to lead the world in Big Data and algorithm research

In response, Dr Twist said: “Many of these new announcements are welcome steps which should help further cement the position of the UK as the best place in the world to make and sell games. Helping SMEs to grow more quickly is particularly crucial, and the announcements on SEIS and export support should have a good impact in this regard.

“However, it is Games Tax Relief which will have a real impact in unlocking our sector’s cultural and economic potential, as the government recognised when introducing the scheme. It is vital that we get it in place as soon as possible”.